As El Paso Survivors Struggle, Defendant Pleads Not Guilty

Patrick Crusius

Patrick Crusius

The gunman behind a shooting in Texas that killed 22 people pleaded not guilty to capital murder during his arraignment Thursday, the prosecutor's office said.

Some wiped away tears as Crusius, dressed in a dark suit and glasses, entered his plea.

"District Attorney Jaime Esparza will seek the death penalty". Authorities are still weighing filing hate crimes charges against him.

Prosecutors allege that Crusius drove more than 10 hours from his hometown of Allen, near Dallas, to carry out the shooting, which also injured 24 people.

The shooting, which was performed with an AK-47 assault rifle reportedly of Romanian origin, reignited debate in the United States about gun control and the causes of such grisly acts, as well as whether the massacres, most often performed by white men, should be classified as terrorist acts.

About 2,000 folks had been on the scene of the bloodbath, so practically all the metropolis's 700,000 residents knew someone affected by the capturing.

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The first judge assigned the case recused himself, because he knew one of the people killed in the attack. His arrest warrant says he declared: "I'm the shooter". That evidence includes police and Federal Bureau of Investigation interviews with Crusius, data from his cellphone, records from the Dallas-area schools he attended and hours of footage captured by Walmart security cameras around the time of the shooting. The court records also included medical images taken from shooting victims, and jail mail and phone calls involving Crisius after his arrest.

It additionally contains the FBI's "manifesto analysis" of the racist screed authorities say Crusius posted on-line minutes earlier than the assault, saying the capturing was "a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas".

Meanwhile, the Crusius legal team appealed for open minds as they present their portrait of Crusius.

"Mr Crusius pleaded not guilty this afternoon", the El Paso district attorney's office said.

The hearing in the El Paso County Courthouse was Mr Crusius's first public appearance since his arrest.

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